Monday, December 22, 2008

When God Speaks

How do you react when God speaks to you?

Doubt? Righteous people doubt all the time. Zechariah doubted when an angel told him about the birth of his son (John the Baptist) – he and his wife were too old to have children! Mary had at least a sliver of doubt when the angel told her about her son (Jesus) who would save the world from its sins – after all, she’d never even been with a man.

Fear? Mary was greatly troubled by the angel’s visit, Gabriel told her not to be afraid. The shepherds dropped in fear as God’s glory shown around them, but the angel encouraged them, sharing good news of great joy. Isaiah collapsed in fear as God made himself evident in the temple, John the apostle was so terrified by Jesus and His words in Revelation that he “feel at his feet as though dead”.

Questioning? The Magi (wise men) came to Jerusalem, asking questions about the one born King of the Jews. The disciples were filled with questions as Jesus taught them. Nicodemus, the preeminent teacher in Israel, was filled with questions during his visit.

Two thoughts from these scriptural observations:

Reactions are just that, reactions, our first line of defense when the unexpected impacts us. God does not seem as concerned about our initial reaction (other than to calm us) as He is our long term response. Zechariah doubted initially, but praised God for his son and God’s work among His people. Mary eventually accepted the angel’s promises, praised God and brought Jesus into the world (despite public and private reaction). The shepherds went to Bethlehem, saw Jesus and believed. The Magi found Jesus and worshipped.

God has not changed (James 1:17 & others). He still speaks today. Perhaps He speaks less spectacularly than at Jesus’ birth, but He still speaks to us through His word, His Son, other people, creation and other means. Don’t worry about your initial reaction – doubt, fear, questioning are all natural, God frankly expects such – but move through that reaction to faith, to hearing and obeying Him as He speaks.